End Grain Cutting Boards

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Project by asloanie posted 11-26-2013 07:33 PM 4937 views 6 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had made two other of these cutting boards, but wanted to knock out a bunch more as family members wanted to get their own as Christmas gifts.
a) The large ones on the left were the last set I made as I finally figured out that thicker looked better and didn’t require that much more wood
b) All of the white squares are made from hard maple. The dark ones vary by cutting board. Mahogany, Walnut, and a South American species whose name is escaping me now. I found the Walnut to be the most difficult to work with as it required a lot of epoxy to fill the small cracks. It does look amazing.
c) Obviously, all of the boards were originally 8/4 and around 6.5-7” in width.

My design is obviously based on the Wood Whisper’s design. One change that I made was to start w/ a 1/4” strip and then work up by .5” increments. That thin strip makes the strips up the side. I think Mark starts with a 1/2”.

My process was to cut the strips such that the total width when glued together was slightly less than 12.5”. This is the width of my thickness planer. The thinner finished boards were made w/ strips that were 20” long. (Thus, the picture of the CB in the clamps is 20” x 12.5) . I found that if I increased the starting width to 25”, I could finish with cutting boards that were over 2” thick. I will tell you that the thicker the finished cutting board the more expensive it looks.

After I glued up the boards and then did my cross-cuts to expose the end grain, I could still run them through my planar with out end tear out.
1) After drying, I used a chisel to remove as much glue as possible on one side to make the board as flat as I could. I didn’t find the need to remove glue from the final glue up while it was drying because it comes off of the exposed end grain very easily. I did remove it from the first glue up after 30 min w/ a chisel.
2) I took the CB to the router table and put a 1/4” round-over on all sides. I knew this wasn’t my finished routing edge, but it 100% prevented any planer tearout. The planer makes glue removal and
3) I then ran both sides through the planer to remove glue and get flat. I know it was 100% flat but it was really close. I handled any slight unevenness with my sander.

The two small boards came from one of the 25” blocks that I cut in half before cross cutting and gluing up. I am going to give these as psuedo cheese boards.

I used a Makita half sheet sander and VSM Vitex sandpaper. This stuff is amazing. Very thick. You can order it from I used 80,100,120,150,180, then 220 grits. You really can’t sand at 80 grit too much. Just make sure you are evenly distributing sanding.

On all of the boards save one I used Watco Butcher Block finish (Highland Hardware)
On the small board that is a bit yellow, I used Waterlox Sealer. I wanted to try the Waterlox. I found it a bit too runny (I had to check the underside for drips) and it made the hard maple more yellow than I liked.

If anyone is starting one of these projects and wants to chat through things, please feel free to reach out to me. I learned a great deal about how to best cut these things (cross cut sled, backwards mitre gauge, etc..) that I am happy to share.

also..if you like the design of the worktable, it is from A very useful multi-function table top that is way way cheaper to build than a Ruobo and seems to be able to do a lot more. But..more on that project later.

13 comments so far

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14193 posts in 5318 days

#1 posted 11-27-2013 12:41 AM

well done project posting. great work

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 3772 days

#2 posted 11-27-2013 12:44 AM

Nice looking set of cutting boards. How do you like the Watco finish? It looks great on your boards.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View Jim Kuehl's profile

Jim Kuehl

16 posts in 3307 days

#3 posted 11-27-2013 02:11 AM

Really nice work. I just finished one of these myself (as a gift), also using the design of the Wood Whisperer. Started with 1 to find out all the difficulties before I do a whole batch. Anyhow, I’ll agree with you that a crosscut sled is necessary. I ran my strips thru the router after cutting and found that the very slight snipe was enough to make the ends of the joints open a hair. And, I think you’re right about the thicker boards – the do look more ‘expensive’ :)

One thing I did differently was the handles. I thought – why leave big recesses on the bottom side? If both sides are handle-less, I can flip it over and use the back side. Sooo, I used a core box router bit to route 6” long grooves approx .5” deep on the sides. I’ll post a picture if I get a chance.

Now I think I’ll go build a cross-cut sled and some thicker cutting boards :)

View asloanie's profile


55 posts in 3323 days

#4 posted 11-27-2013 02:24 AM

Watco – honestly I can say that I have no complaints. It went on very easy and levels itself out. One thing I did which worked really well. My wife had these small plastic squeeze bottles (like the kind you see at a ballpark for ketchup and mustard, but much smaller). I would pour the Watco in that and then squirt it out of those. Easier than pouring out of the can. When I was done, I would unscrew the top and put a piece of Glad Press and Seal on top. I would squeeze the air out then tighten the top with the press-n-seal in between. The next day I would have zero “skin” on top of the sealer. When I just used the can and would open it every day for each coat, there would be tons of skin on top. That required filtering and just wasted material.

Handles – I did think long and hard on whether I wanted to hide them in the middle and thus have two usable sides. However, that would require that I get both the top and bottom to be dead flat so it wouldn’t rock or jiggle when used. That just seemed more work than worth it. Both sides are probably close to flat..but even the slightest wobble would drive me crazy. End the end I just decided..hey..this is a cutting board and it is going to get beat up. By having the bottom “uncuttable”, I could always flip it over and show people what it used to look like. but..your point and approach is very valid.

View asloanie's profile


55 posts in 3323 days

#5 posted 11-27-2013 02:39 AM

One additional comment. I actually found the cross cut sled to be less usable for this project. I have a JET hybrid saw. Remember, I was cross-cutting boards that were 25 wide and 12.5 deep. I felt like the sled was great for the first 3/4 of the cuts, but when you got to the last 6” it was too dangerous and inaccurate to be cutting that on a sled. The piece could shift or get ejected too easily. Kind to “top heavy” against the back of the sled.

What I found that worked amazing was to -
a) put an auxiliary (perpendicular to the blade) sacrificial wood piece on my mitre gauge
b) turn my mitre gauge backwards (faced me)
c) set my fence to the final thickness I wanted (~2 3/8 for the thicker boards)
d) set the workpiece flush against the fence and the mitre gauge
e) secure the board to the mitre gauge with a long clamp and then run it through.

I never had to move the fence and when I got the the final couple pieces, I could run them through with a regular push stick and no mitre gauge. Very safe and all of the pieces were dead on.

One note on gluing.
1. I ended up using a J-roller (like for contact cement) to spread the glue. Very good at spreading, but may have made it too thin.
2. I put the glue on all of the pieces at once and assembled in mass

Occasionally, it would get a piece that became slightly miss-aligned as I would sift the piece vertically to clamp..

There is an amazing woodworker/youtuber named Frank Howarth that showed how to glue each row up individually, clamp, then start applying glue to the next row (remove and re-clamp). This gives each row a min or two to set perfectly. I would do it that way next time.

Here is his site. Pixar quality videos.

View hoss12992's profile


4180 posts in 3228 days

#6 posted 11-27-2013 04:04 AM

Great job

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View deon's profile


2522 posts in 4360 days

#7 posted 11-27-2013 06:20 AM

They look great

-- Dreaming patterns

View aussiedave's profile


3114 posts in 3159 days

#8 posted 11-27-2013 11:06 AM

Great looking batch of cutting boards ….excellent job.

-- Dave.......If at first you don’t succeed redefine success....

View jasoncarpentry's profile


149 posts in 3989 days

#9 posted 11-27-2013 03:07 PM

I visited Frank Howarth’s site, but couldn’t find anything on his end-grain gluing method. Need some help!

Great boards, asloanie!

-- Jim in Tennessee

View mloy365's profile


448 posts in 4465 days

#10 posted 11-27-2013 03:16 PM

Great work! Thanks for all the information.

-- Mike - Northern Upper Michigan

View asloanie's profile


55 posts in 3323 days

#11 posted 11-27-2013 03:46 PM

Sorry..the technique wasn’t specifically called out in an end gain demo. In his most recent build, he put together a turned bowl with a design on the side. He was gluing up a bunch of strips together to make a pattern when you looked at the end grain.

On the wood whisper’s cutting board build, he glued all the strips up at once and clamped. This made things a bit hectic when trying to make sure all of the stips were aligned. I think this is especially important on end grain when you are doing the final glue up. You are trying to make sure each square is perfectly aligned w/ the adjacent set. Otherwise you get a bit of a jig-jag in your pattern.

What Frank did was
apply and spread glue to the second strip (first one doesn’t get glue)
mate it to the first strip and check alignment
50% tighten clamps
apply glue to the 3rd strip
loosen clamps and insert/align 3rd strip
tighten clamps
move to 4th strip….etc..

I think this approach made it less hectic and less chance that when you stood the glued up board vertical, things would shift.

It isn’t something I have tried, but thought that it might be worth a shot if misalignment became an issue. (wasn’t really one for me, but liked the approach)

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 3508 days

#12 posted 11-27-2013 09:37 PM

All finished! Great looking cutting boards! Well done.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 3525 days

#13 posted 11-28-2013 12:48 AM

great looking boards,thanks for all the great info!!!

-- Marty.Athens,AL

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